How to Pronounce the French 'X'

You'll generally find the 'x' in French by itself or with a 'c' ('xc')

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Generally, the letter 'x' is used in one of two ways in French: by itself or in combination with 'c' ('xc').

'X': Soft Pronunciation

The 'x' is pronounced like the 'x' in the English word "fix" [ks] in two locations: 1) in front of a consonant or 2) at the end of a word or syllable. Listen 


  • the letter x
  • une experience > experience, experiment
  • la taxe > tax

Exception: The 'x' at the end of French numbers such as six and dix is pronounced like an 'S.'

'X': Hard Pronunciation

Between two vowels in two different syllables, the 'x' is pronounced [gz] as in exit. Listen
Exception: The 'x' in xérès is pronounced [gz].


  • le xylophone > xylophone
  • exact > exact, correct

Liaison or Enchaînement

In pronunciations that involve liaison or enchaînement, 'x' is pronounced like a 'z.'

'XC': Soft Pronunciation

In front of a soft vowel 'xc' is pronounced [ks], like the 'soft x' pronunciation in which the 'c' is essentially silent. Listen to excentré.


  • excellent > excellent
  • excentré > outlying

'XC': Hard Pronunciation

In front of a hard vowel or a consonant, 'xc' is pronounced [ksk], like the soft 'x' plus a hard 'c.' Essentially, they are pronounced individually according to their traditional rules. Listen to express. 


  • excusez-moi > excuse me
  • exclamation > exclamation
  • express > espresso
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Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Pronounce the French 'X'." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Pronounce the French 'X'. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Pronounce the French 'X'." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 29, 2023).